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Lines Matter
How geographic representation could Completely redefine Austin

Letters to the Cut
by the readers

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by Lisa van Dam-Bates


by Marie Scott




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Lines Matter
by Brandon Roberts




Issue 16 September 2012

September Show Listings
by Austin Cut Staff

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bY Anderson Rodriguez




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Letters to The Cut
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Raw, uncompromising independent journalism.


Brandon Roberts

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Nick Longoria, Sara Whitehead

I am moving to Austin from out of state to attend UT for an MFA in visual art. I looked for apartments online, through a rental service, and park lane villas ended up seeming like the best option. I am planning to move in there in two weeks. However, someone just directed me to your article, “Slumords Exposed.” You said you wouldn’t want to live at Park Lane and then went on to describe some pretty horrific complexes. Is Park Lane as bad as the other properties you describe? Any advice? —A.M.

cyclist and a motorist, it’s the motorist’s fault. In that rare 10% when it’s determined to be the cyclist’s fault, they have no insurance to cover the damages and the motorist through no fault of their own have to pay. This is wrong. If the cyclists want to use our streets they should have to abide by the same rules and regulations as the rest of us. —D.T.

the effort he went through, but he didn’t go nearly far enough to provide useful information. —Home Pool Guy

Re: Iron Cactus is Getting Served With a Class-Action Lawsuit

Columnists & Contributors
Anderson Rodriguez, Marie Scott, Eric Karjala, Kelly-Sue Calderon

Four Lanes vs. Two
I submit this article for your approval. Back in the mid 80’s when I-35 started to get congested, TEXDOT and the Feds made the logical choice to add another lane to accommodate more traffic. Great idea, right? Skip forward to the present. Here in the city our managers just can’t seem to understand this concept. Instead of adding lanes, they are reducing them. All over the city four lane streets are being reduced to two with a turn lane and more bicycle lanes. Common sense tells me that four lanes will move more traffic than two. As for the bicycle lanes, the city has spent a fortune on bicycle lanes and all we get in return is a small amount of sales tax from the purchase of the bike and about 80% of the cyclist totally disregarding traffic laws. On any given day I see at least a dozen riders running stop signs and or red lights, weaving in and out of traffic or ridding in the middle of a traffic lane when they have their own designated lane to ride in. To solve this problem first we need more enforcement. Second, we need to have all cyclists tested after taking a safety course, be required to get a license, register their bikes and above all, get insurance. 90% of the time if there is an accident between a

Eric Karjala, Aaron Robertson

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Lisa van Dam-Bates

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Megan Balden


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I worked as a waiter at the Iron Cactus for years and I can honestly say I always felt like the tip out there was way too high. I would end Re: How’s the Water? up shelling out like 30%-40% of what I made in You need to report the pools with positive a night to bussers, Food expos, food runners, bacteria tests. Come on man, people could get bartenders, hosts, and even cooks sometimes. really sick! I remember thinking how it was somewhat —N.T. unfair to make the already poor waiters pay for basically the entire payroll of the front Re: How’s the Water? and back of the house. It always seemed like The chlorine results above 3 aren’t useful a scam to me and I am glad to see someone without knowing the CYA levels. Further, the test he used to measure the chlorine measures doing something about it. I know a lot of other places do the same for TOTAL chlorine, which again, is somewhat thing so maybe this will help encourage places useless. like this to, you know, PAY their employees. When you add chlorine to a pool it goes in —K.S. as free chlorine. When the chlorine binds to “stuff” (that’s a very technical term there...) as Re: Iron Cactus is Getting Served With a it sanitizes it, it becomes combined chlorine. Class-Action Lawsuit Combined chlorine is no longer reactive and I don’t read anything by Austin Cut. Embaris worthless for sanitization as it has already rassment for journalism - most of what I’ve been consumed. Further, high CYA levels seen is extremely editorialized and the “facts,” (which high levels of isn’t legal in public if you can weed ‘em out, are unsubstantiated. pools) reduces the reactivity/consumption This particular article was a long-winded rate of chlorine. If you have high CYA, you rant about someone who couldn’t hack the need higher chlorine levels to keep the pool restaurant serving biz - they quit after a few sanitized and these higher levels of chlorine days because they “couldn’t stand” having to are NOT dangerous if the CYA is high. learn all the ingredients of the menu items The test the writer should have been using is a FAS/DPD test which can test for arbitrarily and paying for a uniform/apron. As far as Iron Cactus getting sued - there’s a high levels of chlorine. It also can distinguish class-action lawsuit against them for illegally between free and combined chlorine. Any tipping out some employees who shouldn’t pool owner should have this test available, have qualified for tips. though most don’t. So in other words, I applaud the writer for —Can’t Hack It

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want to make delicious new beverages with it too. This one is tropically inspired and, if you have a blender, would be good in smoothie form too. Combine: by Lisa van Dam-Bates - Ice parents are weirdos. That’s really - Rice milk (original, not vanilla) My my present-day dietary restrictions - Coconut rum what to. When I was growing up Bacardi Coco costs a little more than boil down have sugar, dairy, processed Malibu, but has almost twice the we couldn’t tasty anything. So, I was alcohol – 21% vs. 35%. Otherwise get anything, or milk, used sparingly whichever brand is cheapest – you’ll raised on rice sive.” To me, cereal get a hangover no matter the quality. If because “it’s expen rice milk. Coffee tastes you’re going to make a smoothie of it, tastes normal with add some pineapple and you’ll basically normal with rice milk. My palate thinks grainy, and be drinking the healthiest most delicious that soy milk is gross and creamy. So, piña colada ever. regular milk is too thick and drink my it’s no surprise that I want to White Russians with rice milk, or that I


The Austin Cut, September 2012 |

by Marie Scott Something annoying happened to me this month. It’s inescapable, especially in a city that is growing as quickly as Austin is. And, it’s probably happened to every single renter that has lived here long enough to re-sign a lease. My rent went up, but only by enough to make the extra cash a slightly lesser hassle than moving to another apartment altogether. Well, that’s life. But the thing is, I’m not making any more money than I was last year, or the year before that. Which obviously means that a slightly higher percentage of my income is now going directly to my apartment complex. I’m lucky and have a pretty cheap apartment. It’s a studio (400 square feet) and I share it with my boyfriend. That means we only pay $325 each. We’re really getting a deal if you think about the fact that fair market rent on a two bedroom apartment in Austin is at $989. I know plenty of people that are paying way more than that. Servers in Austin make an average of $8.82 per hour according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, the average server has to work about 55 hours per month – just to make rent (assuming that one person’s rent is half of the fair market for a two bedroom apartment). If the average server also works full-time (160 hours per month), then they are paying about 30% of their total income on rent alone. That seems high to me. When I first started waiting tables in Washington State, I always paid for rent with my tips from one week’s worth of part time work. The other three weeks pay, and my $8.55 per hour paychecks, went directly into my savings account. I know I can’t compare a city with a completely different minimum wage than ours, so I decided to take a look at some other $2.13 cities to see how Austin stacked up. I decided to look at average minimum wages and fair market rents for other Texas cities. First, I looked at our neighbors to the south: San Antonio. Servers in San Antonio make an average of $9.36 per hour – only slightly higher than Austin’s. But, the fair market rent on a two bedroom in San Antonio is only $760, meaning that servers down there only have to work for about 40 hours a month to make rent. That’s 15 hours less than us. Maybe San Antonio is just a super lucrative city to serve in. Before I cut my losses and headed for San Antonio, I looked a little farther to Fort Worth. The average minimum wage for servers there is $10.08 per hour, close to $2 more than ours (they’re rollin’ in it!). Shockingly, fair market rent is quite a bit lower than ours. The going rate for a two bedroom is $863. That means that servers need to work roughly 42 hours to make rent. Slightly more than in San Antonio,


Server hourly wages vs. rents in comparable cities

Servers are doing better in cities where the light grey bar (hourly wage) is taller than the dark bar (rent). Unfortunately, Austin has the highest rent and the lowest median server wage. but still way less than in Austin. Other Texas cities beat Austin by quite a bit too. In Dallas, servers need to work 45 hours to make rent (still 10 hours less than here), while in Houston they came the closest to us, at 51 hours to make rent. Curious if Austin was just the butt-hole of Texas, I also looked at Memphis and Nashville (the “other” music capital). Both cities’ wait-people average more per hour and have substantially lower rents than Austin. The number of hours needed to make rent was almost exactly the same as in San Antonio – 41 hours in Memphis and 39 hours in Nashville. So, it would appear that Austin isn’t such a great place for servers compared to any major city in the South. So why is Austin such a shitty city for waiting tables (generally)? I think it boils down to a couple of things. First and foremost: rent here is getting out of control. In the last two years, my rent (well, my share of rent – I can’t afford to live alone) has gone from $225 to $325 while my square footage has gone from 750 to 400. Yet, I am making the same money, not a penny more than when I started working here two years ago. Of all the cities I looked at, Austin had the highest fair market rent rates. Rent here is going up fast and it’s not only people in the service industry but all minimum wage workers that are struggling to keep up. But it’s not just rent; Austin’s waiters make less of an average hourly wage than any other city I looked at. Why? Well, the only real explanation for this is tips. All of the cities I looked at have a reduced, tipped minimum wage of $2.13 per hour. Sorry Austin, but I finally have the data to prove what I’ve suspected since I first started working here: You tip like shit. Apparently people in San Antonio and Memphis know that 10% isn’t a good tip (neither is 12%, 15% or 17% for that matter). Try as I did to find data explaining why people here are such poor tippers, I couldn’t. I know from experience that upper middle class people (rich people) don’t tip well. I know too that college students don’t learn how to leave a proper tip until they’ve graduated with a degree in Gender Studies and are bussing a table for the first time. But, there aren’t any hard facts to prove my suspicions. Next time I hear a coworker with a $500 rent telling me in a macho fashion that they “make good money,” maybe I’ll shove this article up their ass and prove to them that they don’t.■

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by Brandon Roberts Nothing’s really changed in Austin’s government since the early 70s except for voter turnout has been swirling down the toilet. In 1971, more than half the city voted in the local election. These days we’re lucky if we get more than 10% of the city. Even crazier, in raw numbers, more people voted in ’71 than they did in 2009 even though Austin’s population is more than three times as big. The only remotely definitive answer I’ve heard to the “why don’t people vote” question is, “nobody gives a shit.” Some of the theories floating around the Austin Cut East Riverside headquarters include people being too busy working at their dead-end jobs to register and later drive out to H-E-B in actual daylight to vote, people realizing that local politics is a rich man’s game and don’t feel compelled to participate, and the theory that young people (Austin’s biggest age group) think voting is too annoying because there’s no way to vote from our cell phones yet. Earlier this year I wrote an article about mixed-use development and rising costs. It came out right before this past local election and it got me a lot of e-mail responses. Some people wanted to know who they should vote for. The only problem was that all of them asked me this way after the election. All of the incumbents had already been reelected. Either way you look at it, it’s obvious that most people here don’t know anything about the local government and couldn’t really care less. But it’s this attitude that lets things get to the point we’re at now: we’ve got the highest rent out of the major Texas cities, our utilities are all on their way up, the roads are about to enter an ice age of gridlock, public transit is a joke, education isn’t a priority, and to top it all off, we’re poorer than the average Texan. These problems need some serious work, but without the right leadership and some serious re-prioritization down at city hall, nothing’s going to change. Lucky for us, on this November’s presidential ballot, there are going to be some options for us to choose a new system of electing our local government. The two redistricting plans are Proposition 3, a.k.a. the Citizens Districting 10-1 plan (CD10-1), and Proposition 4’s 8-2-1 plan. Latino candidate and little has changed since. Our current system can be represented as 0-6-1: nobody is elected from geographic districts, six people are elected city-wide, and one mayor is elected city-wide. So while a council member in 1971 was supposed to listen to 250,000 people’s wishes, today’s council member is supposed to represent around 800,000 people from across the entire city. And even though Whites are still the citywide majority in Austin, the Hispanic population now makes up over 30% of the city. The Asian-American community is growing too. They’re at about 6% of the total population. These populations are going to get bigger in the future. Despite all of this, Latinos only get reserved one council seat (16% representation) and Asian-Americans have only been able to elect one council member ever: Jennifer Kim in 2005. Unfortunately, she got whipped in a reelection campaign by Randi Shade in 2008. When you have to run at-large in a city the size of Austin, it basically means you’ve got to have a ton of cash on hand. Or you’ve got to go into debt like most candidates seem to do. Lee Leffingwell is still between twenty and fifty thousand dollars in debt after his 2012 mayoral reelection campaign. On top of the whole money thing, when you run atlarge you have to appeal to the most average, middle voter. In Austin, that basically means White, rich (even though rich people aren’t the city’s majority, they make up the majority of voters), and from West Austin. Not surprisingly, over the past 40 years, that’s where most of Austin’s elected officials have come from. The Austin Bulldog published an awesome map of every council member and mayor elected since ’71 and plotted where they lived. 88% of the mayors elected came from the 78703 or 78731 zip codes. 34% of all 100 council members went to people living in West Austin. The report went on to say that over half of the council members elected lived within three miles of City Hall, and that the further from City Hall you looked, the fewer people elected you’d find. Nobody has ever been elected from 78741, home of The Austin Cut (Roberts for Mayor 2015!) and the whole Southside has been extremely under represented (19%) despite being home to 40% of Austin. Obviously I’m not the first person to realize that our current representation is unequal and this isn’t the first time that anyone has tried to change how people are elected. An option to change our system to a geographic or mixed (a system with at-large seats and geographic districts) representation has been put on the ballot six times in the past. All have failed. The closest any geographic system has come to passing was an 8-0-1 (eight geographic districts, no at-large seats, one mayor) that included an independent commission to

Lines Matter

This map shows the distribution of elected council members and mayors since 1971. The darker the zip code, the more representation the region has received. 78703 has dominated Austin politics for the past 40 years. Combined with ‘31 and ‘59, over half of all representation has gone to West Austin. (Thanks to The Austin Bulldog for the statistics.) draw the district boundaries. It lost by 2% of the vote. The most recent redistricting proposition went on the ballot in 2002, when council pushed for an 8-2-1 plan (eight geographic districts, two at-large seats, and one mayor). It lost by 6%. November 2012 will be the second time 8-2-1 goes to vote. In the years since 2002, the council has entertained the idea of giving geographic representation another go. They created a Charter Revision Commission (CRC), a team of 15 people they handpicked themselves, who were supposed to be representative of the city. The CRC was supposed to explore all sorts of different plans and ideas, and make a recommendation on whether or not Austin should even attempt geographic representation, what plan would be best, and who should be in charge of drawing the geographic districts. The issue of redistricting might seem like an obscure technicality to a lot of people, but the best way to control the outcome of an election is to control the way that votes are counted. Let’s say there’s a neighborhood that is going to vote for candidate X and official Y doesn’t like X. Let’s also say that official Y is in control of drawing the district maps. A normal, fair map would make one district out of the neighborhood in question and candidate X would get elected. But since official Y wants to get rid of candidate X, Y divides the X-supporting neighborhood into a bunch of different districts with candidate Y-supporters outnumbering X-supporters in each. Now candidate X will lose. This is the basic way that Democratic voters are “gerrymandered” at the Texas state level. These techniques have been used against all kinds of minority groups in the past, and this is the main reason why people are calling for an independent redistricting committee. After months of meetings, discussion, and some disagreement, the CRC voted on three different issues: on the issue of putting a system of geographic representation on the ballot, the CRC voted “yes” 14-1. In an 8-7 vote, the CRC specifically recommended the 10-1 plan (ten-geographic districts, no at-large seats, and one mayor). All but two people voted “yes” on recommending an independent redistricting committee. The two men against, David Butts (a political consultant who’s been behind the campaigns of many elected council members and mayors) and Dr. Fred McGhee, along with the others

How We Do Things ‘Round Here, Boy

We’ve had the same system of local representation for 41 years. In 1971, the council was made up of six members plus a mayor. This was the first year that citizens voted for their mayor. Before that, city council chose. 1971 was also the beginning of the “gentleman’s agreement,” an unwritten rule where White Austin agreed to reserve one of the six council seats for a Black representative. A few years later, a second seat was reserved for a

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The Austin Cut, September 2012 |

who voted against recommending the 10-1 plan, would go on to form Austin Community for Change (AC4C), the group promoting this year’s 8-2-1 plan. For some reason, the council decided to ignore their hand-picked CRC and voted to put the 8-2-1 plan on the November ballot instead. Supporters of the 10-1 plan accused the council of voting in their own self-interest, wanting to keep the power to draw their own district lines. Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), the group that formed from the CRC around the 10-1 plan, must have seen this coming, because the whole time they’d been out collecting signatures for their CD10-1 proposition. CD10-1 is short for “Citizens Districting” 10-1, a ten-geographic district, no at-large, and one mayor plan with an independent citizens districting committee. They ended up collecting 33,000 signatures. After sorting through them, they’d gathered 22,435 valid signatures. According to the law, any petition with over 20,000 goes on the ballot. Now, both the 10-1 and 8-2-1 plans are set to appear on November’s 2012 presidential ballot right next to each other. During my interviews with both AGR and AC4C, it became clear that during the CRC process some serious shit went down and both sides started to hate each other. Hilariously bitter and rude comments were the highlight of conversations with almost everyone I interviewed. Members of AGR accused the council of trying to kill the CD10-1 plan by putting this “competing” 8-2-1 next to it, confusing voters, and “Ralph Nadering” the redistricting proposal. AC4C supporters accused 10-1 folks of straight up refusing to look at any research on the topic and name-calling. Now that you understand that “people are fighting,” as someone from AC4C summarized an Austin Chronicle article on redistricting, I’m going to break down each of these propositions, so you’ll be ready to make an informed decision in November. Remember that you’re allowed to vote for both propositions. If both pass (more “yes” votes than “no”), then the one with more “yes” votes becomes law. In this case, any change will be better than keeping things the way they are.

Austin Population Under 20

One of the best ways to predict what the future population of Austin will look like, is to look at the demographics of people under 20. From this data, we can expect the Latino population to grow significantly and possibly even become a majority. members and the mayor will be voted on by the whole city. The eight district lines will be drawn by the council members themselves. The AC4C website hosts a document written by Julio Gonzalez Altamirano called “Fair Today Fair Tomorrow: Why a hybrid city council is the unifying choice for Austin.” (Altamirano also runs a blog called “Keep Austin Wonky,” where he analyzes Austin politics and policy from a fairly scientific point-ofview. On the phone, he talks like a human law dictionary, which was impressive to say the least.) The document starts by telling us that in a study of over 7,000 cities across the U.S., the only groups of people that were “significantly helped by single-member districts” were African American males. (Note: Single Member Districts (SMDs) is another term for geographical districts where one person is elected. These are the core of the 10-1 proposal.) It goes on to argue that “women candidates are modestly hurt” by geographical districts. So I read the scholarly articles referenced by the position paper and found the following: White women, not all women, were statistically elected less often from single member districts. Minority women didn’t seem to be affected. The researchers didn’t really know why this was, but guessed that representation by single-member districts. It goes on to argue that with at-large seats, these groups would have a chance at being represented, especially down the line if their populations are growing like Asian-Americans in Austin are. Theoretically, it is possible for minorities to be elected to the at-large seats. And over time, an at-large seat might allow for a greater number of possible voices to be heard. Looking back, we’ve seen that the first Asian-American was elected in 2005, despite the Asian American population being very small (as of 2010, it was 6.3% of Austin). The first Latino—and non-West Austin or downtown—mayor was elected in 2001. But these percentages aren’t very high when you consider Austin’s entire history. There’s also the example of Glen Maxey, the first openly-gay member of the Texas House of Representatives, who was elected from a single-member district. So I called Altamirano, since he wrote the paper, and asked whether or not we should assume that the two at-large seats would go to West Austin like most of them have in the past. He argued, yes, that it “seems intuitive to assume the past pattern will continue” but that the inequality is minor compared to the “downsides with an exclusively geographic

cess some it became clear that during the CRC pro rted to serious shit went down and both sides sta hate each other.

Council Draws the Lines: 8-2-1
The 8-2-1 plan calls for Austin to be split into eight districts, with one council member elected from each. Two at-large council

it could just be the result of a White woman having to go head-on against a man in a small arena. The paper argues at-length that minority groups who are spread across a large area (examples were Asian-Americans, gay people, possibly even renters) wouldn’t be able to get

approach.” Once people are voting inside geographic areas, he went on, geographic “overrepresentation” would continue, but on a smaller scale. Instead of rich West Austin getting elected too often, sub-areas of districts would start winning too often. He’s basically saying that since you can’t ever stop

people from complaining about unfair representation, that West Austin’s overrepresentation is a minor sacrifice compared to what he sees as the benefits of at-large seats. Assuming this is true for a second, what would those benefits be? The AC4C paper argues that in the case someone isn’t being represented by their own district council member, they’d be able to go to their at-large council member as a back-up. This might be theoretically true, but consider the example the AC4C paper gives: “renters, people with disabilities.” How good have the current at-large council members been at listening to these generally fucked-over groups? Why would an at-large official listen to these groups if their voting base is rich, White Austin? The third and most stressed point that Altamirano and I talked about was runaway spending. “Fair Today Fair Tomorrow” attacks 10-1’s purely single member district proposal, saying that since it will shift politics to a neighborhood-centered mindset, large amounts of money will be spent on hugely expensive projects that will only benefit people living near them. The AC4C paper also argues that the problem will be worsened by “log-rolling,” which happens when council members trade votes on projects that won’t benefit their districts for votes on projects that will. Statistics and scholarly research show that the more elected seats there are, the bigger the government gets, and the more money it will spend. This is partially due to log-rolling. Particularly, Altamirano’s research cites Reza Baqir’s “Districting and Government Spending,” an article that investigates whether increased seats increases government spending and what kind of systems can break the pattern. As a basic rule, Baqir finds that as “the number of players” (council members) increases, so does the amount of money spent. But he goes on to say that “although critics of district systems may have been right in thinking that district systems contribute to more government spending, they were likely wrong in supposing that at-large council members would not cater to particular constituencies within the jurisdiction.” The only system where more council members didn’t mean more money spent or more log-rolling was when a “strong” mayor was present. (A strong mayor has the power to veto other council members’ propositions and can only be overruled by a nearunanimous council vote.)  Currently, Austin’s mayor has the same amount of power as the other council members and no veto power. Neither the 10-1 or the 8-2-1 plans included a strong mayor proposal. So even though AC4C claims that 10-1 will make Austin a “public expenditure outlier,” keep in mind that both the 10-1 and 8-2-1 plans add the same number of council seats. Also keep in mind that no research shows that at-large council members can stop the spending increase. Therefore, according to the research, we can expect both systems to affect spending in the same way. The 8-2-1 position is heavily centered on theory and research. While the founding members seem to agree that at-large seats should be an important part of Austin’s future, they don’t address whether or not | September 2012, The Austin Cut

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The Austin Cut, September 2012 | | September 2012, The Austin Cut

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there should be an independent, “citizen’s” redistricting committee. As a proposition, the 8-2-1 plan wouldn’t do anything special with districting and, like the rest of Texas, the council would be able to draw their own district lines. I called Dr. Fred McGhee, one of AC4C’s founding members and a member of the council’s CRC, to ask him why he was one of the only people who opposed an independent redistricting committee. “It’s a solution in search of a problem,” he said, “and our charter is already extremely bureaucratic and unwieldy.” On his blog he went into depth about the issue: “I am not persuaded by those who argue that corrupt and corrupted politicians draw their own gerrymandered lines and therefore rig the rules of the game. This is not the point—of course they do. The question is whether a supposedly ‘impartial’ [independent redistricting committee] is the best way of fixing the problem.” A better redistricting solution, in his opinion, would be led by the city demographer and council would have the final say over the map. He did go on to argue that this problem goes all the way to the top and what we really need is a total overhaul of the Texas Constitution. I think everyone can agree with that. But what this comes down to is should we wait around for the perfect solution? Or should we actively try to prevent known problems?

maps. The ICRC actually goes further and has stipulations on what commission members can do after serving. They can’t be elected for 10 years afterwards, or become a city consultant or staff for three years afterwards. The goal is to keep districting and city business as separate as possible. Peck Young, AGR’s leader, has been drawing Texas district maps for over 40 years and knows how fucked Texas politics can get. He told me about one of his most blatantly corrupt experiences from a rural Texas county: “I’d just been hired and a judge announced we were taking a 20-minute recess, looked at me and said, ‘come into my office, son.’ I walked right back in his office and he looked at me and said, ‘now I got a list of people you’re gonna fuck for me, you understand?’ and he handed me the names of two commissioners and two JPs and he said, ‘I don’t

Some Random People Draw the Lines: 10-1

Under proposition 3, the 10-1 plan with an Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission (ICRC), Austin would be drawn into ten districts, with one council member elected from each, and one mayor elected city-wide. The ten districts would be drawn by a group of people selected by a specific process that was modeled after California’s move toward independent redistricting committees. The plan was designed by AGR and signed by over 30,000 Austinites. The process is meant to avoid the problems we see at the Texas State level, where the district lines are drawn to maximize Republican power, or in Dallas, where the city is being sued for diluting minority voting power. The proposed 14-member ICRC starts with a call for applications. The applications are screened by the City Auditor and 3 randomly chosen auditors to make sure that nobody who applies has, in the recent past: been an elected official, been involved in a political campaign, been a lobbyist, donated over $1,000 to city candidates, or been an employee of the city. 60 applicants will be selected by the auditors (who are forbidden to communicate with council) and made public. Council members will have a chance to remove one applicant each from the pool for whatever reason. Eight names will be drawn randomly and publicly from the remaining applicants. These people will serve on the commission. These eight people will democratically appoint the remaining six members while making sure the ICRC is diverse racially, ethnically, by gender, geographically, etc. As you can see, this process is a long shot from the one we’d see under the 8-2-1 plan where the council would choose their closest colleagues and allies to help them draw the

I know this is the corniest shit on Earth to say, but I’ve really got to: VOTE.

give a damn how you do it, but I don’t want to see these people in office next year and I hired your ass to see to it, do you understand me boy?’” This is the type of deal-making that AGR insists will happen without an independent redistricting committee. Unlike other states’ “independent” committees, Austin’s won’t truly be independent by balancing an equal number of Democrats with Republicans and inserting one non-partisan member. (This is what they do in Colorado.) The goal is to keep the entire process as non-political as possible. AC4C’s Fred McGhee was, again, skeptical and argued that you can’t possibly take politics out of a political process. Maybe not, but AGR seem like they’re determined to try. Peck Young continued: “Now what I want, and what we want as a group, is for us to be as far away from that old judge as we can physically and legally get. And to be blunt, boys working on 8-2-1 would embrace that judge, everything but his language.” But the redistricting issue isn’t the only problem that people have with the 10-1 plan. Some of the Asian-American community is concerned that they aren’t going to be represented under a purely geographical system, since their numbers are low and spread across a large Area.

When I asked Young about this, he pointed to statistical data that AGR had come up with, arguing that while it might not be possible to create an Asian majority district, that it is possible to draw a district centered around North of 183 that has an Asian population of about 16%. This district would be almost “four times as Asian” as Austin is city-wide, and it would look similar to San Antonio’s district 9, which is currently held by an Asian representative. Altamirano, in particular, argued that growing minority groups (especially Latinos) who supported single-member districts were working against their own best interests. Since Latinos are supposed to become a majority in Austin by 2020, he questioned why they’d want to settle for two or three districts, when they’d theoretically be able to dominate the at-large seats in the future. Single member districts don’t necessarily harm large, dispersed Hispanic populations, though. If we look at San Antonio, which has a 10-1 system, we see the city is about 60% Hispanic and that 6 out of the 10 single member districts are filled by Hispanics. The only atlarge seat is the mayor, who also happens to be Latino. “Fair Today Fair Tomorrow” argues that San Antonio’s district 5, an area which has a Hispanic population of 95%, was drawn to pack as many Latino votes into one district as possible and that the rest of the Hispanics were divided across other districts. But Peck Young, who was involved with San Antonio’s 10-1 redistricting, said the reason why district 5 was created with a 95% Hispanic population is because there’s a neighborhood in district 5 with a 95% Hispanic population. Either way you look at it, it’s hard to argue that Latinos aren’t being represented fairly in San Antonio under the 10-1 system. The case of Blacks in Austin, like in other major cities, is a tricky one. For one reason or another, some Blacks are leaving Austin while others are dispersing around the city. Under the Voting Rights Act, there has to be a district where Blacks have a shot at electing a representative. According to Peck Young, with 10 districts, it’s possible to draw a district where the Blacks have a plurality (the highest percentage, but not a majority) of the citizens voting age population. With 8 geographic districts, he claims, the potential Black district will have a White plurality. When I asked to look at the maps, it was clear that AGR was weary of a reporter getting ahold of them and releasing them. The maps are to be drawn by the citizens, Young explained. That’s what the group decided and that’s how the maps are going to be drawn. The arguments that 10-1 will harm minority representation, create a log-rolling environment, and the citizens districting proposition has the potential to create even more problems, haven’t stopped several groups from backing the proposition. As of August 2012, 28 organizations have endorsed the 10-1 plan, including the Austin NAACP, Austin Firefighters Association, Austin Police Association, UT Student Government, Central Texas Republican Assembly, Austin Neighborhood’s Council, Mexican American Democrats, Travis County Green Party, Austin Central Labor Council, and more. (You can find a full list at the Citizens Districting 10-1 website.)

Book Smart vs. Street Smart

Could Citizens Districting 10-1 be an overly optimistic, obvious reaction against all of the inequality that’s been dragging most people in this city down for so long? Yes. It’s possible that in their attempt to find a way to keep the most obvious and corrupt behind-the-scenes dealmakers out of the districting process, they might have overlooked some research and political theory. There could be problems down the road with their redistricting commission, or with the single member districts. AGR might have focused so much energy into disrupting our current system where the richest areas of town get the most representation that they’ve entered “class war” territory, as one 10-1 critic said. But if it’s classism when you fight against handing excessive representation to the rich, what do you call it when the rich get more than their fair share of representation for 40 years? The AC4C people are angry. I get it. They feel like they’re being made into the “bad guys,” the “insiders,” when all they feel like they’re trying to do is have an intellectual, theoretical argument about the whole thing. But at what point do you take your nose out of the books, and realize that a lot of the answers are staring right at you? Yes, theoretically more voices can possibly be heard over time by an at-large seat, but how many different voices have really been heard over the past 40 years right here in Austin? If there’s anything that 8-2-1 is guilty of, it’s trying so hard to find the perfect plan, a plan that no theory or statistical analysis can punch a hole in, that what they have is something that was already pushed by council ten years ago and got its ass kicked. There will never be a perfect representation proposal. No matter what proposition we put on the ballot, and no matter how hard we try to avoid them, mistakes are going to be made. Problems are going to come up and we’ll deal with them when they do. I know this is the corniest shit on Earth to say, but I’ve really got to: VOTE. Register if you haven’t. (You can do it with your food stamps application, which you’re going to need once taxes and water rates go up this year.) We’ve got the highest rent of the major Texas cities, one of highest average household incomes, and yet more people in Austin are struggling to get by than in Texas overall. We didn’t vote ourselves into this problem, but we might be able to vote ourselves out of it. If you’re tied up about which proposition to vote for, and you know that you don’t want to vote for both, think about this: What kind of council hand-picks a group to tell them which redistricting plan to choose, but then totally ignores their decision? And how much better are they going to be at “listening” to their own Redistricting Commission when it draws a map that doesn’t favor the council?■

The last day to register for the 2012 election is October 9, 2012. You can register at H-E-B, Randall’s the Post Office, the public libraries, Amy’s Ice Cream, and most colleges. You can do it by mail if you download a form at:

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The Austin Cut, September 2012 |

Summer of Love Block Party
The Summer of Love in the 60s seemed like it would have totally ruled. The techno Summer of Love in the 90s seemed like it would’ve been a total pile of shit. How will 2012’s “Austin” Summer of Love rank? 2pm at Frontier Bar

September show Listings


Natural Child
Natural Child’s album cover is a naked chick’s (or girly man’s) butt. The area where the pussy (or chode) would be is in shadows. If I worked for this band, I would launch a marketing campaign saying that if you buy the album, scan it, and bump up the brightness and contrast to the max, the shadowed area becomes something glorious. 9pm at 29th St. Ballroom

Texan cry. 9pm at Beerland

Fellows, Garner Sloan Schooler, Ouiness
This Fellows band reaffirms everything I’ve known about English-speaking Europeans: they’re perverted, they’re perverted, and they’re perverted. 7pm at Trailer Space Records


Ichi Ni San Shi
Psychedelic pop rock with the vocals of a spirited eunuch fresh out of the joint after a 10 year stint of solitary confinement. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

Driving redneck rock you could only write in an air conditioned living room while watching

Book of Shadows, Language of Light, Gabhar
Come to this show if you’re in the mood for some ambient mood music in the vein of an uninspired John Whitney soundtrack. 7pm at Trailer Space Records


Missions, Fielded, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Head-Head

My friend lived with a member of this Olympia, Washington based girl-core band. Hopefully they expend 100x as much effort on practicing as she did cleaning her apartment. 9pm at 29th St. Ballroom

Cunto, Ralph White & Walter Daniels
Cunto are like a pop punk Mentors worship band with blue grass instruments and an eighth of the testosterone. 8pm at Legendary White Swan


I used to make love to my first boyfriend while listening to "Code Blue”. This band brings back painful memories indeed.

Skinned, Id, Xapharon, Khringe
Ready to sit through modern death metal with six string basses and band logos fringing on self parodies? 9pm at Beerland

Peasant, KNEST
At first, I thought Peasant was a woman. Then I realized that, even though he’s 21 years old, the years of sitting around in a room, eating bagels, and writing music don’t do a body good. Those things have a LOT of carbs, man. 7pm at Trailer Space Records If an alien spacecraft hovered over Trailer Space for this show and stole all the gear, the amount of money it would take to replace everything would be enough to bankrupt any insurance company. 9pm at 29th St. Ballroom SPIKE TV. 8pm at Legendary White Swan

Gruff pop rock-a-billy you would hear in a South Park montage. 9pm at Mohawk

Turquoise Jeep
How come when Backstreet Boys performed their choreographed dances, they looked gay as hell ... but then when Bell Biv DeVoe did it, they looked like total pimps? Was it the clothes, the hair or the skin setting them apart? Whatever the reason, Turquoise Jeep pull it off without looking like total fools. 8pm at Mohawk

Scott H. Biram
Sleazy honky rock singer songwriter from San Marcos. 9pm at Red 7

Fall of the Roman Empire 1536th Anniversary Party w/ The Cymatic, The Triggermen, Marvelous Mike D,
This is going to be one fucked up show: white people rapping “pimping ain’t easy” and hip hop fans celebrating the demise of one of the greatest republics ever formed. It’s enough to make a Real

I used to make love to my first boyfriend while listening to “Code Blue” This band brings back . painful memories indeed. 9pm at Red 7











FUNFUNFUNFEST.COM/NITES | September 2012, The Austin Cut

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September show Listings
Blood for Master
Is there a metal-centric dictionary/thesaurus that I didn’t know about that all metal bands are using to describe their music? If so, someone hook it up. I need to write a 5,000 word article about minority representation where words like “primal,” “brutal,” and “sinister” show up at least 10% of the time. 9pm at 29th St. Ballroom
3pm at 29th St. Ballroom

Jason Morales
My friends and I have a code-word for Stevie Ray Vaugn: butt-fuck, or BF for short. I wonder what Austin’s spaced-out guitar god, Jason Morales calls him. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

video, getting the first glimpse of the front man, and realizing that he looks exactly like a gnomish version of your dad twenty years ago with a shrunken head and a beard. 10pm at 29th St. Ballroom

sandwiches and perfect their skills. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

The Heavy
I think this band sucks really bad, it sounds like Nirvana mixed with some funk/soul with really

For the record, Akron/Family is a Folk Band from Oregon and has no relation to the performer Akon. They stand firmly against blood diamonds. 9pm at Red 7

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Bodyguard, Moon Diagrams
This is an official petition to get Ariel Pink to do a blast beat using only his mouth. Meet in front of the Mohawk at 7:30 if you want JUSTICE! 8pm at Mohawk

The Sour Notes
Freshly back from their summer tour, I’m sure Sour Notes will put on a tight show. If you’re interested in getting the rich “tour experience” you can live vicariously through their detailed blog about life on the road. 10pm at Stubb’s

Ape Machine and Tia Carrera

I had to say it out loud a couple of times before I realized that Thee Oh Sees must be huge fans of the greatest TV show ever.


Psychedelic Light & Sound Festival
Psychedelic light ... sound ... and ... wait. Is this a ploy to get me to smoke out and then get the munchies at the Spiderhouse?

Everything about Ape Machine, down to the vacuum tube amps and reel-to-reel recording, says “revamped 70s stoner rock.” But only one thing separates the boys from men in this world: pubic-hair Afros. 9pm at Hotel Vegas

Band of Heathens
If you didn’t already know, Band of Heathens has a really corny, butt-fuckin’ country song “about Hunter S. Thompson” called “LA County Blues.” 9pm at Parish

Simple Circuit w/ Koko Beware
Simple Circuit managed to take the cooler elements of proto-punk, dump the bullshit, and not be a complete and utter throwback stereotype. 9pm at Beerland

stupid rock parts. But, while I was giving them a listen with a very skeptical expression on my face, my roommate came out and started enthusiastically dancing. Maybe I don’t like it because I don’t understand it. 9pm at Red 7


There’s nothing scarier than watching a music video, getting the first glimpse of the front man, and realizing that he looks exactly like a gnomish version of your dad twenty years ago with a shrunken head and a beard.
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Can someone explain to me why, two milliseconds into the song, there are already about five thousand comments on Soundcloud from people who “love the intro”? Will our society ever get over its impulse to comment on everything or will we find ourselves commenting on how unique the first three millimeters of Tycho’s morning turd looks? How many people are there, three nanoseconds into Tycho’s morning shit, commenting on how they love the start of that? 9pm at Red 7


Wolvie, Think No Think, Trace Faulkner
Woah ... I think David Bowie secretly lives in Austin and is disguising himself as a beardo. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

Ben Nichols (of Lucero) w/ Mike Hererra (of MXPX)
If this isn’t evidence enough that these guys are fucking you’ll just have to wait for TMZ to release the sex tape. 9pm at Red 7

Back Alley Music Review
As a guy playing blues music, how often can you really expect to get laid? Also, does having a song called “Gold Digging Woman” add or subtract from this rate? 8pm at Legendary White Swan


Twin Shadow, Niki and The Dove
When you Google Twin Shadow, their Myspace page is listed before their Facebook page. I don’t know how to navigate Myspace’s attempt at making themselves “modern.” They should really just quit being a site and stop annoying everyone. 8pm at Mohawk


Ta Ta Tuesdays Titties Against Terrorism on 9/11 w/ Egypt, Sabbath Crow, Brontosaurus
Men will do anything to catch a live glimpse of a titty. 8pm at Headhunters

Wild Frontier Fest 2012
Last year, Wavves headlined Wild Frontier Fest. They played in front of a tiny audience of teenage marijuana experimenters. How will Wild Frontier Fest top themselves this year?! 12pm at Mohawk

Just when you think that every band name has been taken, you see something like “Hume” and it makes you feel like humanity has a chance after all. 9pm at Mohawk


Psychedelic Light & Sound After Party
I’m tired of people telling me to stop wearing my sun glasses, even though it’s 4:30AM and my eyes are little red beads from drug and alcohol abuse. 5pm at Hotel Vegas

Impossible Maps, Cocker Spaniels, Lick Lick
ATTN hopeful writers: Cocker Spaniels have a song with lyrics about the process of planning, writing and editing a book. I’d say that the lyrics are pretty accurate ... especially the part about how he really hates his editor and how the edits really get under his skin and hamper his “creativity.” 7pm at Trailer Space Records

If you’re not seeing four of everything by the end of this show, then you actually just bought a ten-dollar cup of sprite. 9pm at Red 7

Death-prog from Tempe AZ with Nuclear Assault pitched death growls. 7pm at Trailer Space Records


Twin Shadow
Luscious synth-pop with ghostly beats dreamy enough to keep you dancing in your sleep. 8pm at Mohawk

Citymen, Gremlins UK, War Party, Sealion
Citymen could be a serious contender for girlfronted straightforward punk. If Gremlins UK are as cute as my childhood friend’s Pekingese named Gizmo, then I’ll probably take them home with me. Seriously doubtful though. Pekingese > punx. 9pm at Beerland

Ugly Beats, Mullens, Spastic Shakes
While most 60s power pop groups in Austin are totally unlistenable, Ugly Beats play the perfect jams for hitting up that beautiful Texas surf ... oh, that’s right ... bummer. No surf. 9pm at Beerland

Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Gal Pals, Flesh Lights
I had to say it out loud a couple of times before I realized that Thee Oh Sees must be huge fans of the greatest TV show ever. You know, the one where Mischa Barton has to wear flats for like five whole seasons and her love interest co-star wears high-heeled boots so that the conventional “boy must be as big as girl” audience can actually believe she fell for him. 8pm at La Zona Rosa

Strung Out
90s pop punk adorned with flame embroidered bowling shirts and the gleam of crusted hair gel. 9pm at Red 7


Calico Jazz Trio
The Calico Jazz Trio hail from the Texas Cuban Trailer’s musician war effort. Austin should take note: these boys do nothing but beef up on Cuban

Two Gallants
There’s nothing scarier than watching a music

The Austin Cut, September 2012 |

September show Listings
Criaturas, Dead Line, Burnt Skull, Wet Lungs
Paging all hardcore fans ... this is your chance the get all that anti-establishment anger out of your bones. 9pm at Beerland ends up at Trailer Space. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

Whiskey Shivers
Even if you don’t like folk, country, bluegrass, or O Brother Where Art Thou, you might like Whiskey Shivers’ stage banter. 9pm at Frank

Federation X
When the guys in Federation X were 15, they started a band that played Metallica covers with joke lyrics. Through high-school, the band got more serious, especially around the time that Skyler, the lead singer, got his first girlfriend. Ten years later, the band is on the verge of breaking up. Johnny, the lead guitarist and songwriter, decided that since he’s 25 and is eligible for FAFSA (since he’s not under his parents) he’s going to do something with his life and go to college. But first, Federation X has to go on tour for the first time. 9pm at Red 7


Beach House, The Walkmen
Beach House got a TV commercial producer to literally beg them to let him use one of their songs in a Volkswagen commercial. They said no, but he insisted. More money? No. Praise? No. Come on, it’s “a great opportunity!” Still no. So the producer just hired a band of losers to rip Beach House off for the incredibly retarded commercial. 7pm at Stubb’s


T-Bird & The Breaks
Finally, Austin has its own version of Fatboy Slim. 9pm at Hotel Vegas

The guy from Zoltars is a real freak. If the "majority rule” was a little more brutal and a little less passive, I’m pretty sure that not only the singer, but the whole band would be in straight jackets, screaming through the bars of a padded, white room.
8pm at Emo’s East

The People’s Temple
Hey everyone! Free party at the Mohawk! It’s a celebration! Free tunes and all the Kool-Aid you can drink! 9pm at Mohawk

Eternal Summers
You can pretty much predict the sound of this band from their name. 9pm at Mohawk



only just now coming to an end. 8pm at Red 7

Balmorhea w/ Sleep Good, Jesse Woods
The best skate documentary is the first half of the Gator Rogowski one ... up until the point where he murdered that chick and later became a born again Christian ... wait. Hold on a second ... you’re telling me this is a band not a skate documentary? OK. Sorry. 8pm at Mohawk

White Arrows
Is civilization going to collapse when Facebook dies? Or is that guy who walks around Savers wearing a shirt that says “Myspace is dead. Long live Myspace!” going to finally get a new shirt? 9pm at Red 7

The Soft Pack
According to Wikipedia (which is where I get all of my music news), a soft pack “can refer to a device that when worn is intended to convince others that the wearer has a penis” This band must be . super popular because when I did a Google image search, only band photos popped up. Too bad. 6pm at Mohawk

Brother Ali w/ Blank Tape Beloved
Brother Ali is a giant, blind albino. He likes to make fun of the media for pointing this out in the first lines of their stories about him, but The Austin Cut isn’t about to pretend we’re not that shallow. 6pm at Mohawk

Blondie w/ Devo
Deborah Harry might’ve been all that and a bag back in the day (and in Videodrome), but these days you’re gonna want to be as far away from the stage as possible. You can only cover up the smell of decaying flesh so well. 6pm at Stubb’s


Dikes of Holland
Deze band is niet uit Holland. They bent van Austin. Een enorme teleurstelling voor de Austin Cut omdat het blijkt dat de helft van ons zijn helft Nederlands (die verwijst naar de mensen uit Holland). Don’t have to Babelfish that to understand it: Dutch is just funny sounding English. 7pm at Trailer Space Records


Scorpio Rising
One of the freakiest pictures I’ve ever seen was of this band, Scorpio Rising ... and I’ve seen every Faces of Death movie ever produced. 8pm at Legendary White Swan

The Blood Royale, Amplified Heat, The Greater Good, Sabbath Crow
J Crow’s 40th birthday wish consisted of a ton of epic crusty metal bands hitchhiking and train hopping from all over the union to play. The last you can do is drive your car to East Austin and watch. 5pm at Frontier Bar


Mac Demarco
There’s something about this dude that I just like. I don’t know if it’s the I-don’t-give-a-fuck pixelated logo, the I-don’t-give-a-fuck album cover, or the I-don’t-give-a-fuck vocals. 9pm at Mohawk

William Elliot Whitmore, Samantha Crain
There’s something about the combination of a white extra deep v-neck, two weeks of stubble, a fedora, and a toad-voice that makes me want to kill. 9pm at Mohawk

Tom Girrrl, Feral Panther
For a place that has such a cynical cult following, it’s kind of surprising how much pop punk

The Zoltars, Bloody Knives, Boone Graham, Gonzo Sirens, Mad Maude & The Hatters
The guy from Zoltars is a real freak. If the “majority rule” was a little more brutal and a little less passive, I’m pretty sure that not only the singer, but the whole band would be in straight jackets, screaming through the bars of a padded, white room. 9pm at Beerland

You know you’ve been sober for too long if this sounds like a good band name. Before recording their album set to release this month, singer Tod went on a life-changing journey through Turkey and Pakistan (among other places). It would appear that he brought back some musical influences from his travels. I don’t think this is a good thing for indie music. 9pm at Red 7

Instead of giving HWM a listen now, I’m going to reminisce about crowd surfing with a bunch of middle-school girls back in the day.


Mount Eerie
Have you ever wondered what Enya would sound like without the stupid voices and on tentimes the lethal dose of barbiturates? 10pm at Parish

Cate Le Bon
Here’s a little known fact: In 1972, Lou Reed and Nico were hanging out. Nico was shooting H and Lou Reed was working on an ice sculpture with a machete. There was a loud gunshot outside, which startled Lou, causing him to accidentally cut his own head off. Nico overdosed at the same instant, and both were almost certainly dead. When the EMTs showed up for the gunshot, they found Lou and Nico. Lou’s head was done for, an Nico’s body was toast, so they did the sensible thing: they sewed Nico’s head on Lou’s body. After a long and difficult physical therapy regimen, “Nou” recorded an album under the stage name “Cate Le Bon.” This show is the result of the recent discovery of those master tapes. 9pm at 29th St. Ballroom



Easy Tiger, Bloody Knives, Shortwave Radio
Austin’s ultra-chill pop sensation Easy Tiger has a firm grasp on the design-end of band artwork ... the only thing stopping them from massive success is a version of Photoshop from any time in the last decade. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

Mad Ace Maud and the Hatters, Jenny and the Reincarnations
I was expecting some gigantic, borderline racist 50s psychobilly asshole, five-miles high on an insane ego-trip, screaming lyrics about engines and bitches. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I found a room full of voices, jazz instruments, and Ray Charles covers. 7pm at Trailer Space Records

Hot Water Music
Back in 2005 every hardcore tough-guy on the planet listed this band as their “guilty pleasure” . That same year I dropped off my roommate at a HWM show while I went to Fall Out Boy. Instead of giving HWM a listen now, I’m going to reminisce about crowd surfing with a bunch of middleschool girls back in the day.

Slick Rick
Besides being way ahead of the times musically and getting ripped off by tons of big names, Slick Rick was ahead of the times fashion-wise too. I think his “glass in the eye as an infant story” doesn’t hold up in light of the pirate trend that is

Wu-Block featuring Ghostface Killah and Sheek Louch
Wu-Block have been touring like mad men ... if I weren’t so broke, I’d throw these guys a bone. 10pm at Beauty Ballroom | September 2012, The Austin Cut

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by Anderson Rodriguez Ever since it reached a level of general western-world ubiquity sometime in the 2000s, it has been widely accepted that the internet is one of humanity’s most ingenious inventions. The ways humans interact and connect with one another world-wide has been changed so fundamentally that to describe them would seem futuristic and absurd to twenty-year old incarnations of my now aged grandparents. Sites like Wikipedia, Google, and YouTube have not only entered the lexicon, but have also become invaluable research tools for the average individual curious to discover more about the world at large. Soon, it seems, it will be difficult even to find a cellular phone plan that doesn’t require paying for round-the-clock internet access as part of the basic contract. For the first time in the history of our species, information and knowledge have become more or less democratized [though it can be argued that inherent class discrepancies lead to the fact that those who are unable to afford internet access, i.e. the bottom rung of the socioeconomic strata, now face more obstacles than ever when attempting upward social and economic mobility], and it would seem the average internet user has few excuses not to continue their education far past their formative school years. But the human capacity for perversion should never be underestimated. According to some not-so-groundbreaking research (mine), the internet, along with being one of the final bastions and troves of limitless, easily accessible knowledge available to an increasingly apathetic and dumbed-down populace, is used primarily for two main purposes: “trolling” (the sending of inflammatory or provocative messages purposefully crafted with the expectation that this initial message will elicit equally negative responses, or, if the troll is particularly lucky or adept, the commencement of an all out “flame-war”); and, of course, the viewing of

pornography.  Both of these purposes being symptoms of the altogether larger first-world problems of boredom and a general and ever growing inability to empathize with other sapient beings. However stark and socially pertinent, none of this should come as particularly surprising or new information. Since pretty much its first widespread public use, the internet and perversion go together like cops and child molesters in prison (the metaphor, of course, falling short at the fact that, unlike prison, where police officers and pederasts meet up in protective custody—the smaller, secluded group of the prison at large—the perverts of the internet are the general population). Hell, one of my first experiences with the internet was when I was twelve and I didn’t have it, but my next door neighbor did, so every afternoon I’d go over to his house and, sitting in the side room of the garage where his family computer was kept, we’d burn through his AOL hours disc by logging onto AOL Instant Messenger and asking strangers if they “got pics?” Then, after inevitably getting bored with this game, searching for naked pictures of the girl from Seventh Heaven (no, not Jessica Biel, who actually had semi-nude photos published in Gear magazine around this time, but the slightly more homely Beverley Mitchell, for some reason). But that was back in the Wild West frontier days of World Wide Web-based perversion and sexual curiosity. These days, perverts are no longer cloistered away to obscene chat sites. Instead, with the inception of so-called “porn 2.0”—tube sites such as Youjizz, YouPorn, PornoTube, PornTube (distinct from “PornoTube”—common mistake), FuckTube and BookpornTube (compelling name, I must admit, though surprisingly unliterary in the final analysis)—the perverted majority of the internet finally have a way to truly interconnect with one another: rubbing them out to the same videos as thousands of other horny people. Someone, however, decided the perverts

of the interweb weren’t connected enough by these shared masturbatory stimuli. Somewhere down the line, apparently, the question was asked at a pornographic video tube site board meeting: what happens when the trolls of the internet are given a medium with which they can broadcast far and wide to other trolls and pervert-trolls, just how they, as an individual and lonely troll caught in the vastness and potentially infinite wisdom of cyberspace, feel about a particular pornographic video? This led to the somewhat alarming decision to begin including “comments” sections for each video on many of the more popular tube sites. In an effort to try and better understand the perverts of the internet (myself included), I decided, at great risk to my personal sanity and computer security, to browse through a varying array of these comment sections to see what I could glean from the perverttrolls of the internet. Interestingly, the results actually managed to be profoundly disturbing in ways that superseded my already sordid expectations. With the hopes of not encouraging additional traffic to any of the sites, many of which are hosted in foreign countries, thus allowing the sites to avoid prosecution for the hosting of copyrighted material and in turn denying profit to the hardworking men and women of the pornographic industry (yes, that previous sentence was completely serious), I will be withholding the names of the sites in question, though I will be providing my notoriously stringent editor with URLs for all of the videos in question. Videos will be chosen the same way I choose which Wikipedia articles I’m going to read to kill time: I will start at the homepage and see what looks interesting until I’m inevitably led down a wormhole sticky with wasted-time and shame and regret. Video One: “Retail Store Creampie” The Video: I’ll start first with what appears to be a short excerpt taken from a longer film. The video has seven comments and an overall rating of 88.50% with 554 “Good” votes, and 72 “Bad” votes. The video is four minutes and six seconds long and depicts a young woman in a green shirt getting plowed by a guy with a shitty tattoo on his ribs. Throughout the video she makes some fake moany noises and says things like “fuck me.” Also, she’s getting banged in a store on a clearance rack for some reason. Pretty standard porn territory. The Comments: Comments range from the coherent, if subject-ambiguous, “nice cock. Love his pussy pounding, wish it was me,” to people being pissed about false advertising in the title of the video, “not a creampie stupid,” and, “THAT WAS NOT A CREAMPIE MOTHERFUCKERS!!!”  Then there is the somewhat baffling, “can’t stand those fake moans, quiet moans are hot, but not those fake-ass American-hoe ones. FUCK YOU AMERICAN ASSHOLES. WHITEPOWER!!!” (Reader, take note that this last comment, left 07/31/2010 at 1:12 am, is a classic example of trolling.  Notice how the comment doesn’t make sense, but implores others to reply defensively.) What I learned: The art of trolling is alive and well in porn

comments. Also, if your video promises a creampie (sex act—you can look it up your damn self ), you’d better deliver.  Otherwise, people will call you names like “stooped.” Video Two: “Barely Legal Casting” The Video: With a total of twenty-four comments, this video has 1,484 votes with an 86% positive rating and 1,714,761 views.  It was added to this particular site eight months ago which means that this video is watched roughly 7,030 times per day.  The video is part of the “Backroom Casting Couch” series of videos.  It is a “reality” porn series, where a middleaged dude, face always blurred out, has unprotected sex with women, many of them girls who appear to be amateurs and in their late teens. In this video the man asks a girl who claims to be eighteen, but could pass for fifteen, a whole bunch of awkward questions about sex, which she answers in a way that either highlights a strong history of character acting, or simply belies her actual sexual greenness. The man then proceeds to have her strip in front of the camera, ostensibly as part of a casting process. After sexing her up against a wall, he ejaculates on her face in a close-up that is really just creepy and left me feeling not aroused, as porn should, but rather cold inside. The Comments: Highlights include the somewhat racist, “have you ever done any black chicks? Or are you afraid that they’ll find out & shoot you? LOL” by someone named Bonezz_11 (his profile picture shows a shirtless dude with sunglasses and a visor blowing out some sort of smoke, and under “more info” he is listed as a twenty-two year old male who has been actively using this particular site for over two years and has watched 2,224 videos, giving him an average of three porn videos per day); the perverted, “daddys girl exploited, love it,” and, the misogynistic, “she looks hot with a dick in her mouth, but other than that, not so cute. too tiny,” by Freaknasty831, whose profile picture is an erect penis. What I learned: (Besides how many porn videos Zach Bonezz_11 watches per day.) That the American public education system is profoundly failing to teach its youngsters that riddling your text with comma splices makes you look like a total dumbass. But, my porn comment research did lead me in an educational direction. Additional research into the authenticity of the Backroom Casting Couch series revealed that the male “star” of the videos is an Arizona man named Eric Whitaker, and that he totally has Herpes Simplex Virus Type I (he released proof through his Twitter account for some reason). The girls in the video are paid a flat fee up front, and are fully aware that they are entering Whitaker’s sleazy as hell Scottsdale office to have sex on camera, though apparently Whitaker has no qualms about knowingly spreading his Herpes, an offense which in the state of Arizona could possibly be considered aggravated assault. Since June 2011, the greasy fuck Whitaker has been on the radar of sex crime detectives. Next month Anderson continues to probe the porno-troll world and stumbles across a sex scandal involving a senator’s daughter.■

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The Austin Cut, September 2012 |